Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


As we rejoice the welcoming news of vaccine rollouts and gear ourselves for 2021, there are some major learnings from 2020 that will guide us through 2021 and beyond. 2020 was an unprecedented year for everyone across the globe, especially for businesses as they were caught up by surprise with the sudden lockdowns and its aftereffects. I think 2021 will be a transformative year for businesses. While the demand will surge as situation normalizes, the businesses will be left to think how they can build a more resilient business model and try to future proof it. The key trends that I think will dominate the wider industry are:

Re-imagining of the Business Model.

Agile and flexible business processes provide the ability to shift and pivot quickly to changing dynamics. This was widely seen during the pandemic where a lot of organizations completely transformed their business model which helped them survive and succeed. They were quick in using innovation as a tool to transform their business model as the consumer demand shifted with the onset of pandemic. A lot of business leaders will be left to think and focus on how they can be more innovative with their business model that can quickly adjust to changing dynamics. This trend will be widely seen across industries and they focus on building a more robust business.


In today’s business context, Automation signifies resilience more than productivity; something common across businesses which were able to survive and thrive during the pandemic. This is going to be a key focus area for businesses in 2021. Businesses will have to evaluate and see where they can take people out from a process where not much value is delivered by them and automate those functions. We will see an increase in deployments and usage of Industrial Robotics/AI/ML and RPA technologies to conduct work going forward. This will also provide businesses with an opportunity to reskill their workforce and deploy them to functions where they can deliver more value add.

Digital Transformation

The last 6 months has seen more digital transformation than in the entire decade. This is likely to be the strongest trend in 2021 and we will witness many businesses taking a leap in this direction. 2020 fueled the pace of digital adoption, majorly on the consumer side and reshaped their online behavior which is likely to stay going forward. The businesses will now have to rethink their strategies to make the most out of this opportunity. We will see a lot of small and medium businesses adopting to e-commerce and social commerce leading to an increased focus on D2C model.

Work from anywhere

When the lockdown happened, most businesses had to resort to remote working. Though this led to initial teething issues, but gradually business models evolved to accommodate and adjust for this change. The biggest learnings for most businesses out of this was the realization that they don’t need the entire workforce to always operate from office. This also gave business leaders the much-needed confidence they lacked earlier to believe that businesses can not only survive but thrive even in such a set up. Going into 2021, this will be one of the leading trends where businesses will focus on creating hybrid workspaces and eco-system which foster this new way of working.

Inclusive and Diverse workforce

As organizations get comfortable with the idea of “work form anywhere”, the other important focus area will be to build and inclusive and diverse workforce. With previous norms like talent must be based out of office being a thing of the past, the HR teams will be more comfortable and confident experimenting the idea of building an inclusive and diverse workforce by recruiting talent PAN India. This will provide significant career opportunities to talents based in Tier 2and 3 cities who were earlier hesitant to relocate.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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